Daughter can't wake up on her own and resists cleaning her room

My teenage daughter cannot wake up on her own, and I have facilitated this by always waking her up. She has also been on a medication that had a sedating effect, but she is tapering off of it and will be off soon. Additionally, she stays up too late at night and then is always tired during the school day, so she naps during her asynchronous times and I wake her up multiple times during the day. This is becoming a very big hassle and she is completely dependent on me to wake up. Do other parents that have experienced this problem have suggestions for me? I will be taking a multi-pronged approach to this issue. On a second note, she is a star student and extremely disciplined about her academic work, but her room is very dirty and disorganized. Both she and her father say that it is not a big deal, since it is her room. We did not establish a pattern of her cleaning her room regularly when she was younger, so unfortunately this is something we are dealing with at 14. More broadly, she feels like her job is to be a successful student, so she is very disinclined to do housework. She is also an involved athlete, so her spare time can seem relatively small between school, athletics and fitness. All of us in our family tend to focus on our work but let the rest of the house get disorganized, so this is a larger family pattern that manifests in the most extreme way with her. I would appreciate your thoughts on either of these issues.  Responses that are relatively constructive and kind are welcome- I already have plenty of negative self judgement about this situation. Thanks.

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I'm not a doctor but to me this sounds like depression or another medical condition. It does not sound usual to nap multiple times during the day at age 14. I would start with both a physical and then removing privileges like sports until she fulfills her household responsibilities.

I agree with the poster who said this sounds very unusual and like depression or a medical condition. I’d solve that first. Then, to keep your own sanity, write down the things your daughter is doing right and feel gratitude every day. You’re lucky!! Then, I think the messy room is normal at 14 but if there’s a family dysfunction you and your husband should tackle this together vis a therapist or counselor. When you’re modeling an organized home, she’ll gradually get on board. And finally - I am very neat and clean. I run a tight ship. All rooms are 90% organized and I hate clutter. But ... all of my teen years my room was HORRIBLE. I literally carved a path from bed to door. My mom didn’t care much. There was moldy food on the floor! I had a (wild) mouse for a year! I often lost things for weeks. She did put me in full charge of my own laundry tho ... but the net is, the instant I moved out, I became neat.  Cheers

As a parent that missed all the signs of my adolescent son’s 3 sleep disorders (Delayed Sleep Onset, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and Central Sleep Apnea), I highly recommend ruling out these diagnoses. Adolescent sleep requirements are uniquely demanding, as are a teen’s school and extracurricular activities. Which makes it all the harder to distinguish between routine fatigue and other more complex issues with sleep and rest. My son’s teen-like behaviors masked his sleep disorders. It took a home sleep test followed by numerous sleep lab studies to pinpoint the reasons for his energy swings, behaviors and sleep patterns. (And he lost his first year of college getting all that sorted out.) That’s my experience and recommendation: just be sure of what you are working with.

I too had a kid who could not/would not wake up on his own.  I tried every kind of reward and consequence and nothing worked. I also tried multiple types of wake-up alarms (phone, music, alarm clocks)—none of which worked until I found a clock so loud even my son could not sleep through it. It's called the Sonic Bomb Extra Loud Alarm Clock (can found on Amazon). I put it on the other side of his bedroom so he has no choice but to get up to turn it off. My son HATED the sound of it but even he had to admit it worked. 

Since your daughter is getting off a drug with a sedative effect, maybe wait until she's all the way off and then start not allowing naps during the day so her body can readjust to sleeping at night. If she has a phone, pad, computer, or anything else she uses in her room I would suggest removing them all at bedtime. Otherwise she is likely to stay up with them and it will be much harder for her to avoid daytime naps.

The good news in your post is that she's a star student and very into athletics. That's amazing and you have every reason to be hopeful for her future based on that alone! If that were my kid I think I would be so happy that he was applying a work-ethic somewhere that I wouldn't care at all about a very dirty room.

My daughter is 16 and is also an excellent student as well as an athlete, with both morning and evening practices.  We were in a similar situation as you that we didn't establish a regular chore routine when she was younger, since between school and athletics, she has always been incredibly busy.  However, a couple of years ago, we started asking her contribute to the household tasks in small ways - clearing the table and emptying the dishwasher as well as vacuuming and light dusting on weekends, for example.  I purposely picked tasks that could fit around her class and practice schedule but also emphasized that her father and I both worked full time AND drove her to/from practices, so she was old enough to also start contributing to the family.  While there was some grumbling (which I totally ignore), she did start helping out. Now that she's 16, she's matured a little bit and helps more around the house without too much prompting from us, including starting to do the laundry on her own.  Her room is generally a total disaster, but as long as she is helping to keep the household functioning and reasonably clean, my attitude has been that her room is her domain, and if she wants to live in filth, so be it. In terms of sleep, I can't speak to what may be causing the need to nap during the day, but while I've been lax about the household chores, bedtime has always been a non-negotiable. This is the only time I have threatened to restrict attendance to practice - she needs proper rest to perform her best in both school and athletics and if she refuses to go to bed at a reasonable time then I refuse to get up early to take her to practice.  Now that she's 16, we don't have a strict bedtime, but I still make her start shutting everything down for the night at a certain time, to ensure she gets a reasonable amount of sleep.

Good luck!  it sounds like you have a great daughter, so don't judge yourself too harshly!!

I was that kid decades ago, except I was in school in-person, so I was falling asleep during my classes. Is she a perfectionist? Does she spend too long (and stay up too late) getting all of her work done because of her standards? Does she take on too much? It sounds like she may be trying to do more than she can manage (between excelling in school and athletics), without a realistic sense of her sleep needs. And/or do you suspect time management/executive functioning difficulties?

Whether this sounds on mark or off for your daughter, it seems she may have some needs that require support. Has she done a neuro-psych eval? Perhaps she has some particular needs that can be identified and supported. I'm going through that process now, after having struggled through adulthood as someone who performs very well in different performance-based arenas but has difficulty with other key skills. I'm learning a lot about myself! I wish I had gotten this support much earlier in life.

As far as the housekeeping goes, I think a lot of people are experiencing their spaces devolving to whole new levels, since we're living in them so much more. In our house, we've started doing 5-minute bursts of "tidying." We try to do at least one a day; we play fun music to boost morale. Cleaning up a whole space can feel overwhelming, but 5 minutes we can all handle. We don't set goals for the 5 minutes, we just tidy whatever we feel compelled to, or whatever's in front of us. It adds up! We've started sharing all the house tasks more equally (for example, we all load our own dishes in the dishwasher)--all little things but that have helped a lot.

I hope you're able to find some solutions and support that work for your family! I appreciate and feel for you!

My 22 year has this same issue and uses several alarm clocks to wake up. Sometime we need to nudge her,. but it is working.  As for the cleaning of the room, well its a bit hard to do this if the rest of the house is a mess.  You need to establish more of a group effort on tasks to clean the entire house along with her room.  Also, let her know that no dishes/glasses are allowed in her room unless she brings them down and put in dishwasher.  Give her good examples and set a good standard, otherwise you are the pot call the kettle black as the saying goes.  Have one day a week that is dedicated to her making sure the room is neat.  

Hi! I can completely relate. My 16 year old son can't wake up without me either, and stays up WAY too late too.
His room is a mess. He is incredibly disciplined with his athletics(Jujitsu and Mixed Martial Arts) but is not a star student so I would say that is amazing that your daughter does her school work!! Our house is crazy and disorganized too sometimes- I feel that because I did not make this a priority sooner- constant upkeep of cleaning rooms-that I have to take a lot of this blame. The fact that your daughter does her school work and is driven to do athletics is really a great accomplishment. I do not agree with the poster who says it could be depression. As a teen I was very messy with my room too, but a good student and dedicated athlete as well. In time I became interested in cleaning and tidying. It is hard but for now I know that my job is to be the annoying parent and wake him up, bug him to clean his room, or even more annoying to him(and his 14 yr old brother) just come in and start cleaning myself! Many people might disagree that I should clean their room myself, but actually, when I have cleaned their room while they were out, they thanked me and obviously prefer it clean, so I feel that this sets a precedent that one day they will follow, and also it actually keeps me in a position of control- that I come in their room when I need to, to wake them up or clean or whatever, so they cannot have this space of complete control but that it is still part of the household. I often will not give allowance until they clean their room. Withholding money is one thing but do not withhold any passions they DO have, such as sports or academics! Praise and encourage their accomplishments and consider no allowance if chores are not done. The pandemic has been so hard on our teens. If they are still doing homework and fitness, to me that is promising and worth celebrating. I know it is frustrating. Keep the faith!

I too have a busy teen that doesn’t like to do housework. First, I think you should give the medication time to wear off before expecting her to manage the waking up. Second, pick your battles. Let her decide which chores she needs to do. It’s normal for a teen to want to make her own path and make mistakes. Take joy in the success she has and the relationship you have. In the blink of an eye, she will be out of the house making her own decisions. 

The napping during the day sounds a bit atypical but if she is physically and mentally healthy and is a star student the only issue I see is that you have taken it upon yourself to awaken her. Let her set her own alarms?  If she continues to sleep and misses school or teamwork she might find herself more engaged in the process of self regulation. The messy room is very normal. I just shut the door to my sons room and let him deal with it. Not big enough to fight over especially if she is such a good kid over all. Good luck! 

This is a difficult and emotionally draining situation you describe. While the waking and cleaning are likely related, for the purposes of this response, I'll address them separately.

You've noted that your daughter is tapering off of a medication that has a sedating effect. I would speak with her prescribing doctor about the sleep issues. What you describe does not sound like "normal" teen behavior. Your daughter is of the age where it is appropriate for her to manage her own waking if there are no underlaying health issues.

As far as the cleaning goes, it will be difficult to support her in changing her habits if the rest of the family is similar, even if she is the worst offender. You might consider a re-boot for the whole family. Perhaps a family meeting is in order. Start small. Also, keep in mind that she is of an age where it is typical for the room to be a disaster. My daughter was a neat freak as a child. Once she hit high school it all fell to pieces--her room was a disaster. She was a high performing student and a two season athlete. 

I have housecleaners come once a month. My daughter is expected to pick up her mess before they arrive. The cleaners do a thorough cleaning, but do not pick up clutter. If she hasn't picked up, they don't clean. Other than that, it's up to her to clean in between housecleanings. She's also responsible for her laundry and washing the dishes after dinner. After a year or two of her room being an utter disaster most of the time, she started getting tired of sleeping on smelly sheets, of clean clothes left unfolded in laundry baskets getting covered with cat hair, of food turning moldy in bowls shoved under the bed, of loosing homework and writing implements, etc. Her room is now relatively neat and clean (not to my "standard", but don't spend time in there). Caveat: if mental health is an issue (depression, anxiety, learning issues, etc.) that can manifest in one's lack of ability to maintain one's space. The mental health issues have to be addressed for improvement on the cleaning front. (I know this first hand from my second child, now a young adult. He, too, can now keep his room clean.)

There's hope. Compassionate parenting will go a long way.

Hi.  I do not have any advice but wanted to say that I am kinda similar situation with my 16 year-old-son (and also the 13-year-old daughter, but son goes extreme) - who does have the same sleep pattern/tiredness etc.like your daughter; and also does not clean up his room at all; nor does any household work.  He used to do chores until about a year ago. I myself am a bit disorganized and do not have very strict rules; but I wonder even if I had rules, whether they would have ignored those anyway. Our house is generally not very organized, but I have explained the need for cleanliness and organization many times.  I am wondering if this is more of a teenage thing.  I would actually love to hear stories of teens who keep their rooms neat and clean, are disciplined, self-motivated to do chores, helps family members and so on.  Take care.-SG